Turn Homeward, Hannalee Study Guide

PDF pageEmail pagePrint page

by Cathy Kaemmerlen


Program Description
TURN HOMEWARD, HANNALEE is a history-come-to-life show, based on an actual event.  After the Battle of Kennesaw Mt., as the Union troops advanced towards Roswell, they were given orders to burn all the mills and round up all the mill workers, charging them with treason.  This was the beginning of Sherman’s total war campaign, designed to bring the South to its knees and to bring a swifter end to a long, bitter war.  Because they were making cloth for the Confederate Army, some 400 mill workers, mostly women and children, from the Roswell Woolen Mill, were arrested, shipped off to Marietta, then to Nashville, and finally to Louisville, where they were housed in an old warehouse until work could be found for them.  Many died on the trip; more died of illness at the warehouse; others found work in the union mills or on farms or in households.  Few returned home after the war.  Since they mostly were illiterate textile workers, no journals were kept or found, no letters home, little documentation other than from newspaper accounts.  This play is a fictional account based on the historical fiction novel of Patricia Beatty, of what might have happened to one twelve year old mill worker and her family.

Artist Bio
Cathy Kaemmerlen, author, actress, historical interpreter, playwright, and storyteller, is known for her variety of characters, one-woman shows, and for bringing history to life.  A performer and “creator of shows” since she can remember, she has toured in schools coast to coast, since receiving a BA in English/elementary education from UNC-Charlotte, and a MFA in dance performance/choreography/theatre at the University of Wisconsin.  She tours some 20 current shows which she wrote, through the Georgia and South Carolina Touring Arts Rosters, Fulton County Teaching Museums, G.E.T. Programs in the Schools, and through her own production company, Tattlingtales Productions. She is the author of four books and many plays, including one commissioned by the DeKalb Historical Society. Most recently she was commissioned by the Plains Chautauqua Society to write and appear in the one-woman show:  The Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail.

Background of Art Form

Telling stories is an oral tradition, dating back to when mankind first developed a language or form of communication.  Storytelling is a universal way of passing down information to be saved and remembered for generations to come.  It is an interactive art form in which the storytellers’ passion for the story, material, and information is passed on to the audience, who sorts through, stores, and synthesizes what is heard.

Prepare – Teachers, please read this to your students.

Today we are going to have a performance by an actress/storyteller named Cathy Kaemmerlen who is going to portray Hannalee Reed, a character in an historical fiction novel called Turn Homeward, Hannalee, written by Patricia Beatty. Hannalee is about 12 in the play and works at the Roswell Mill as a bobbin girl.  She and her brother, Jemmy, and friend Rosellen, along with 400 other mill workers are charged with treason by the invading Yankee Army because they were making cloth for the Confederate Army.  They were sent by train to Louisville, KY to serve as prisoners of war until the war ended.  Hannalee makes a vow to her mother that she will return home.

Warm up Questions to set the stage for engaging students:

What were the historic events that led to the Civil War?
Why were cotton mills so important to the South?
What do you think it would have been like to work in a textile mill?
What would it have been like to have to go to work instead of going to school?
How do you think you would feel when you were waiting for the enemy army to come to your town?

Vocabulary to review before the show:

mawmouth –slang term for cotton textile workers, probably in reference to a Southern drawl, talking as if cotton is in the mouth
bluebellies–slang term for Union soldiers, dressed in blue
traitor–one who betrays
artillery–mounted weapons
desertion–the act of fleeing, usually from an expected duty
bobbin–the spindle that is seen on spinning machines or equipment
chicory–a weed who’s root, when roasted, provides a substitute for or is mixed with coffee when there is a shortage
neutral–in the middle, without decision or making an active choice
treason–to betray one’s country
billeted–quarters for the night
rations–daily subsistence given to soldiers
cornpone–cornbread made without milk or eggs, thus called “dried”
refugee:a displaced person either taken to safety or forced (as with Hannalee)
skilled worker–a skilled laborer, one with specific skills and training
victuals–slang form for food or grub
secesh–slang form for a southerner who seceded from the Union
louse–singular form of lice, a parasite that feeds off humans and animals
glean–to pick up, gather, or pick out

Warm Up Questions for meeting the Georgia Performance Standards for “Listening/Speaking/Viewing”:


  • Describe the perfect audience.
  • What are some of our class rules for being good listeners?
  • How do we show someone we appreciate their visit to our school or classroom?
  • How does being part of an audience help make you a good citizen?
  • What are some examples of bad audience behavior or attitudes?
  • How does a negative audience member effect your enjoyment of a show or performance?


  • How would this make the performer feel?
  • How do we want the performer to feel when they leave our school or classroom?



  • Read the book, chapter a day style, and its sequel:  BE EVER HOPEFUL, HANNALEE, or other examples of historical fiction by Patricia Beatty and other authors.
  • Talk about the differences in life style between 10-12 year olds today and in the 1800’s.
  • Discuss and brainstorm about how it would feel to be torn apart from your family and taken to live in a strange place.
  • Draw parallels between what happened to the Roswell mill workers and what has happened to other “innocent bystanders” who have become victims of war.  Is there such a thing as an innocent bystander during a civil war?
  • Did the decisions that Gen. Sherman made to bring the south to its knees really make the war end quicker?
  • What were the long term consequences of his actions and decisions?

Music Resources:

HONOR TO OUR SOLDIERS, music of the Civil War by the Classical Brass
JACKET OF GRAY, songs of the North and South from the Civil War by Southern Lace
THE BRIGHT SUNNY SOUTH, songs from the Civil War by Jim Taylor
OLD TIME GATHERING (Aura Lee), Cumberland Records
NEW MANCHESTER GIRL by Cathy Kaemmerlen @www.tattlingtales.com

Book Resources:

BE EVER HOPEFUL, HANNALEE (sequel to TURN HOMEWARD) by Patricia Beatty
CHARGED WITH TREASON by Michael Hitt (Roswell policeman and histoian)
THE ROSWELL WOMEN by Frances Patten Stratham
CHARLEY SKEDADDLE by Patricia Beatty
NORTH ACROSS THE RIVER by Ruth Beaumont Cook

Visit the mill ruins down Sloan Street in Roswell or take a field trip to the new museum and mill ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park.

QCC’s:  Grade 4 Social Studies:  27; Grade 4 Language Arts:  45; Grade 5 Language Arts: 51; Grade 8 Social Studies: 26; Character Education:  7, 8 (8.1, 2, 3); 13 (13.1, 2, 3, 4); 11(11.1, 2, 3); 12 (12,1,2,3,4,5)